A suspected Chinese human rights activist was arrested in South Korea after fleeing on a jet ski. The coastguard said the man had travelled at least 300 km at sea.
The man was carrying binoculars and a compass during the journey. The South Korean Coast Guard also noted that the detainee had five fuel canisters attached to his jet ski. “He refuelled during the trip and disposed of the empty jerry cans at sea,” the Coast Guard report said.
He got into trouble near the cruise terminal in the western city of Incheon. The man was arrested on Wednesday for “trying to smuggle himself into the city”. The detained man has not been charged with espionage.
Li Daoxian, an activist with the non-profit Dialogue China, told AFP on January 2 that local sources said he was Kwong Pyong, a critic of President Xi Jinping. But the identity of the detainee has not yet been confirmed. The Chinese Embassy in the South Korean capital Seoul declined to comment.
In recent years, Beijing has made it harder for activists to leave the country. As a result, they cannot leave the country by plane or by crossing the border.
In addition, many Southeast Asian countries no longer grant asylum to Chinese asylum seekers.
If it is indeed Mr. Kwong who has been detained, he will not be allowed to leave the country normally to seek asylum. This is because he has previously been jailed for criticizing President Xi Jinping. Mr. Lee says Kwon’s method of entry into South Korea was “wrong and illegal”. He also emphasizes that Kwon has been facing political persecution since 2016. He is likely being monitored by the Chinese government.
According to Lee, Kwon has not yet decided whether to apply for refugee status in South Korea. South Korea only allows a few applications each year. It is therefore possible that Mr. Kwon wants to go to another country.